Oil prices were so high in the 1970s that the Government of the day said everyone had to choose one day a week to not drive their car in order to conserve fuel supplies.
Fifty-odd years later, New Zealanders are facing another cost of living crisis. Despite the temporary reduction in fuel excise, petrol prices topped $3 per litre in Auckland and Wellington this year.
No doubt many Kiwis are choosing to drive their cars less often, simply because it's too expensive. But at least we have the option available to us.
In the near future, however, Kiwis might have less choice in how much they drive their cars. Not because they don't want to drive cars but because the Government has launched a crusade against the use of cars.
Under Labour's Emissions Reduction Plan, a number of measures are being implemented to make it harder to get around in cars.
First, let me be clear - we need to reduce our emissions. This is important and National is committed to doing so in Government. But we need to stop thinking cars are evil, when in fact cars in the future will be mostly EVs running on clean technology.
Transport Minister Michael Wood recently announced the new "Reshaping Streets" proposal which would give local councils the power to easily make widespread changes to streets without prior consultation.
The potential changes could include reducing speed limits, axing car parks, closing off streets to vehicles, and carving up road space for cycleways and busways.
This is like Auckland Transport's Parking Strategy to axe 240km of kerbside parking over 10 years but on steroids. In short, the Labour Government is trying to make it as inconvenient as possible to use a car in the future.
Councils will be able to call these changes "trials" but, in reality, they can ram these changes through and have them in place for two years while calling this "consultation".
What this means is that bureaucrats can run wild with street changes and ask for forgiveness after the fact, rather than seeking genuine consultation and community buy-in before the fact.
Too bad if you're a shift worker or tradie who can't rely on public transport or walking to get to work and happen to park on the street because your property doesn't have a driveway. Soon you will have nowhere to park.
Further to this, under the Emissions Reduction Plan, a target has been set for Kiwis to drive 20 per cent fewer kilometres by 2035.
Bureaucrats in our big cities will be applying the target by coming up with plans for reducing kilometres travelled in a vehicle, which essentially means finding ways to make driving a vehicle as unattractive as possible.
If you're wondering why the focus is on reducing kilometres driven by vehicles, rather than on reducing emissions from vehicles, you're not alone.
If most of us have EVs by 2035, surely it shouldn't matter how many kilometres we drive? The point is to reduce emissions. Car manufacturers are responding to market demand - people now want to drive EVs, when 10 years ago they didn't.
In 2019, roughly 8800km were travelled by car per person in New Zealand. A 20 per cent reduction would mean the average Kiwi would be driving 7000km a year by 2035.
The Ministry of Transport estimates we will travel 59.3 million kilometres in 2033, while Stats NZ estimates we will have a population of 5.6 million by the same year.
These projections indicate Kiwis will each be driving roughly 10,500km in 2035, which in reality means a 32 per cent reduction in kilometres would be necessary to meet Labour's target. There is no way the public transport network will be able to compensate for that loss of kilometres travelled.
Kiwis will have fewer choices about how to get around as a result of Labour's policies. Visiting family and friends, running businesses, and going on holiday are going to get harder.
Are Kiwis going to nominate a day not to drive their car like in the 1970s, or will Labour do it for them?
National believes that Kiwis can make their own transport choices. We need to reduce emissions, but the way to do that is by replacing petrol cars with EVs, not by launching a crusade against cars.
Cars are not the problem. The emissions are the problem.
• Simeon Brown is the transport spokesperson for the National Party.